Child protection

Child Protection

 

Miracle Baby: Day-old girl returns from clutches of death

© UNICEF/India/Aditi Tandon/2006
Miracle child: Recovered from a sand mound in a battered state, the day-old child undergoes treatment at Government Rajindra Hospital in Patiala city of Punjab.

By Aditi Tandon

INDIA, Patiala, 28 September 2006 – Pediatric ward of Government Rajindra Hospital is hosting a special child these days. She has no name, but if she were to have one, “Adbhut” (marvelous) would be perfect. She has just survived a fatal assault that no other child, who’s been in the world just a day, could have. Her doctors are surprised, so is the man who rescued her.

The Night of September 12
It was the night of September 12 and Mr Devinder Kumar, a medical shop owner, was resting in his Phulkian Road residence. He had returned home earlier than usual that day. Had he not, a newborn girl would have choked to death in his backyard. “I seldom return early from work. Now I know who altered my schedules. God had an interest in saving the child. I just facilitated the divine plan,” says Mr Kumar.

As he once tries to recount the horrors of that night: “I was taking a walk in the verandah when I heard a baby whimpering. It was a desperate cry for help. I followed the whimpers, and found myself in an abandoned alleyway that separated our colony from the one behind.

`It was a Godforsaken place, full of wild, thorny growth. You could not have walked an inch into the road without getting hurt. I traced the cries to a mound of sand. The child was lying buried under it. I removed the sand and pulled her out.”

Battered and left to die

The child had serious injuries. She was naked; wrapped around only in a layer of sand. Her umbilicus had been severely infected, vulnerable as it was after her birth that very morning. Sand particles had entered her body from ears, eyes, mouth and umbilicus.

The man at rescue was shocked at her condition. Almost certain that she will collapse, he prayed. He had no idea of the miracle in waiting.

By the time, the neighbours had gathered on the spot. The police had also arrived after intimation. On duty that night was Assistant Sub Inspector Mr Tejinder Singh, who has witnessed many such cases in Punjab. The state has a notoriously low sex ratio. One of its districts, Fatehgarh Sahib, has just 754 females against 1000 males. Patiala is no better.  Over a small period, it has witnessed several cases of attempted killings of newborn girls.

© UNICEF/India/Aditi Tandon/2006
Touch of life: Senior pediatrician at Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala Dr Harshinder Kaur monitors the condition of day-old girl child who was recovered from a sand mound in a battered state two weeks ago.

Doctors save the baby girl

Out of 10 children who visit the pediatric OPD of Government Rajindra Hospital on any given day, only two are girls – a trend indicative of a declining child sex ratio. So when the police rushed a girl child to the pediatric emergency that night, doctors left nothing to chance.

They put the child on a drip as she had lost considerable glucose (a condition called hypoglycemia). Then they restored her body temperature that had dipped to potentially fatal levels.

“She was severely hypothermic (had a low body temperature). She had remained under the sand mound for far too long and had lost vital energy. There were marks of battering all over her body. She had been beaten up mercilessly; some of her bones lay exposed. It was a clear case of attempted killing. But the child seemed determined to live,” says Dr Harshinder Kaur, who’s monitoring the child’s progress.

She has personally researched the problem of declining child sex ratio in 48 villages of Patiala area. More than 68 per cent people inhabiting the belt don’t want girls.

Adoption Requests start pouring in

As the news spread that a day-old child had miraculously survived an ordeal, requests for adoptions began to pour in. In two weeks’ time, the district authorities received hundreds of formal requests – some from as far off as USA and Canada.

But they can’t process any of those till the time the child is declared fit for discharge. Also, she will have to be relocated at a shelter home authorized to handle adoption cases. Till such time, prospective parents will have to wait.

And they don’t mind. Reason: they believe the child is auspicious and will bring fortune to them. One of the hopefuls says: “That she lived proves she is the blessed and the chosen one. She’s God’s own child. The luckiest couple will have her.”

 

 

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